I did a search, clicked a link, and that website I just visited wants to know who I am. And when it asked, I ran. Or least, close the tab and moved on.

Though their intent is most likely not for nefarious purposes, many websites want to know as much about their visitors as possible. They want to target content to me and marketing pitches. But there’s a right and wrong way to go about this. Or better, effective and non effective methods.

A common way now is to place a pop up ad to cover the content requesting your name and email before you can read their content. Think that will work? Only if you’re trying to chase away visitors. Imagine going into your local market that offers free samples. “Sorry. Before you can have a taste of that ice cream, I’ll need to see some ID?”

The hidden content method simply won’t work because there are just too many alternatives out there for information. Do a search for topic, product or service and you’ll get thousands of answers. Answers without information requests.

CAN-SPAM laws and email marketing services demand that you prove that each subscriber requests and confirms that you can send them email. So then how do you get people to sign up for your newsletter?

Short answer: you don’t. Newsletters are dead. No one has time to read them online. If you insist on creating them, snail mail them and you’ll probably get better results.

Long answer: replace your newsletter with value, or exclusive content. So that email better have something they can’t get any place else. Coupons, private sales, exclusive offers, work well. What if what you’re “selling” is content? I’ve never liked the “sign in to read full article” as I bail on these too. Instead, give me the full article and make me sign up for an exclusive video on the topic.

As for paid content, look no further than the dating websites who have perfected the process. The unsuccessful ones require every last detail before they’ll let you browse. The smart ones let you browse and send messages, but you’ll have to pay to see who replied.

Requesting social media information all comes down to timing and reciprocation. Know when to ask, how to ask, and limit what you ask for.